“I like to think that viewers can be in their turn creative“. Conversation with Marco D’Agostin
Interview by Lisa Cadamuro – NID Platform staff
You have defined your performance Everything is ok as “an experiment on the tiredness of watching”. You did not use the word “experiment” by chance, because the inspiration is, in fact, science-based. Can you tell us something more about this?
The creation of Everything is ok has been accompanied by many readings, some of them encouraging me to follow the direction I had instinctively taken, others diverting me and taking me to other unexpected outcomes. Among these readings there are some neuroscience essays, based on a subject which has been widely investigated over the last fifteen years: how the human brain behaves in the absence of a specific task; and how in reacts, on the contrary, to an overabundance of tasks and messages. The most remarkable result is that there is scientific evidence of the necessity for our brain to have moments of rest in the course of a normal day. Idleness and boredom serve very useful purposes: the storage of memories, creativity, the development of emotional self-consciousness. Leaving out all the sociological, political and economical implications of this scientific field – I suggest the essays of the philosopher Byung-Chul Han for this purpose –, what is left in the choreographic work as an evident mark is the attempt, which I decided to call experiment, to expose the audience to a “bombing” of more or less clearly recognisable signs relating to movement in the world of entertainment. The hypothesis I wanted to prove, and which I try to test at each single re-run, is what happens to the viewer when a body on the scene generates a huge amount of signs. Each of them is potentially recognisable, but deprived of its original context, meaning relations and hierarchy. My constant wish is that the viewers abandon themselves to a state of estrangement, decide – or decide not to – play this game of recognising such signs; and that, at some point, their brain simply induces them to find something else in that body, or in the space inhabited by that body – in other words, I like to think that viewers can be in their turn creative in relation to an abundance of images, gestures and movements they are called to decode. And yet, my work is not intended to prove my points: it does not deal with the issue of the accuracy of the experiment and does not have a specific aim, other than that of providing the tools for an experience.
What is the meaning of the title?
This work originates, in the very first place, from the frustration in the face of the impossibility to meet an expectation – that of the audience of contemporary dance and theatre. I do not want to generalise, but in the period just prior to the creation of this work I experienced with great discomfort what looked to me like the request of a more entertaining dimension of dance. A request that, in my perception, was coming from many sides, perhaps from myself in the first place. Everything is ok has thus been, since the very beginning, a mantra I wanted to take with me during the creative process: it was important for me to tell myself and others that everything, after all, is ok, even when it is not so.
You are the author and the only interpreter of this performance, and Marta Ciappina contributed as movement coach. How did your work together take place?
I invited Marta Ciappina to take part to this project because I hold her in high esteem, both as a dancer and as a pedagogist. I believe that right now in Italy she is a role model in the transfer of knowledge on movement: her language skills and the cosmology of her words make her teaching precise and fascinating, intellectual and sensual at the same time. The remarkable aspect in our collaboration is that she was able to find her own role inside the creative process in a very short time: she understood with impressive accuracy what my body and my soul needed in order to be inhabited by the set of gestures I was building the score on – my chain, as Marta has quite properly renamed it since our first day of work together. She created for me the tools which allow me to escape drowning in such a frenzied and technically complex dance, helping me to give the correct specificity to each detail and forcing me to deal with the moral weight of such movement – which needed to respond more honestly to the requests both of my body (breathes, falls of tension, accelerations, tears) and of the performance more in general (the relationship with the outside, the look of the audience, the management of fatigue, the time).
The sound is curated by the musician and composer LSKA. How did your collaboration start?
LSKA had worked with Giorgia Nardin in a show I performed in, All dressed up with nowhere to go. He looked to me like the right person for the music of this work, which was meant to serve as a counterpoint on the one side, and to evoke a landscape on the other. LSKA has great technical skills with electronic devices, but he is also perfectly capable of moving across a much wider range, also in the traditional field: I am very grateful to him for creating the wonderful piano composition which closes this work.
VAN, which presents your performance, is very young. Founded by Francesca Foscarini, Giorgia Nardin and yourself in 2013, it has already gained considerable success, both in Italy and at the international level. How did you achieve this?
VAN has some rather peculiar features. It was established in 2013 because Francesca, Giorgia and I came from a very successful common creative experience, Spic & Span, but also wanted to continue our creative work as single authors. Creating and managing an association raises a number of very complex issues, it is tiresome yet necessary: it guarantees us independence of thought and choice, and we hare happy to have seen its existence acknowledged over the years. At present, the core of the structure is Federica Giuliano, our manager, a devoted and accurate professional: I strongly feel she should be mentioned here because she is the one who guarantees the survival of the association. However, success depends solely on the results of each one of the choreographers who are part of it: VAN tries to provide the means for working with continuity and professionalism, but it is thanks to the artistic value of the works of Francesca, Giorgia, Davide Valrosso, Camilla Monga and Andrea Costanzo Martini than we can, to some extent, talk about international recognition.
What do you expect from this edition of NID Platform, where you present – as VAN – as much as two performances?
I may sound trivial, but the first thing I expect is to find the ideal conditions for carrying out my job: hospitality, time, patience, care. No event can be successful if it is not animated by a tight-knit and passionate group of organisers, technicians and volunteers. In this respect, the work of the staff is more important than that of the artists: we have already created our shows, all we have to do is to perform well, in the right conditions. I also expect, as always in this sort of events, to meet people I can talk to with some degree of seriousness, accuracy and honesty.
M. D’Agostin is a performer and dance maker. He has performed for several choreographers including Claudia Castellucci/Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, Alessandro Sciarroni, Iris Erez, Liz Santoro, Tabea Martin.
He has deepened his choreographic skills with Rosemary Butcher, Peggy Olieslaegers, Wendy Houstoun/DV8, being involved in many international projects such as Choreoroam Europe and Act Your Age. Since 2010 he has been developing his own choreographic work. Viola, his first solo, has been awarded with Premio Gd’A Veneto and was selected by Aerowaves and Anticorpi XL in 2011; Spic & Span won the Segnalazione Speciale Premio Scenario 2011; let sleeping dragons lie won the Premio Prospettiva Danza 2012. Everything is ok has been selected by Dancenet Sweden and Aerowaves 2016.
The Olympic games, his latest production created in collaboration with italian artist Chiara Bersani, premiered in Spring 2017 at Kampnagel, poduced by K3|Tanzaplan for Hamburg and the EU project BeSpectACTive!